Groups of Churches
Churches of all denominations are now nearly always in either a formal or informal relationship with other churches, be that through pastoral reorganisation or within a missional, resourcing or ecumenical strategy. The days of single churches or churches going solo are mostly behind us, and this has to be a good thing.
In fact, churches have always had some degree of relationship with one another as part of a denominational unit like a Deanery or Circuit, or as neighbouring churches of different denominations serving the same village, town or locality.
In many places the old structures are finding a new life and missional purpose. And over the last generation there has been much more awareness of a shared identity and purpose across our denominational boundaries, and some significant partnerships emerging that have broken the old denominational moulds.
At ReSource we want to be available to help churches as they explore how being in relationship with other churches can enrich their life and mission.
It isn’t always easy to work out how to make collaborative units work well together. And sadly too often the reality of a team ministry, or united benefice or circuit isn’t in reality what it says on the tin, even when the structures are there and we use all the right words. But the potential is immense, and we would love to help to make the vision a reality wherever we are invited.
It may be that a Sanctuary Day, or some of the other ministries we offer to the Local Church might be scaled up for a group of churches.
Some of the ministries that we offer for church leaders might work well with a lay and/or ordained leadership team serving a group of churches.
Connect Days are custom-designed days of inspiration for clusters of churches in a benefice, Deanery or ecumenical grouping. They will include a mixture of worship, teaching and workshops tailored to meet the needs of the churches in a locality and designed to allow God space and opportunity to meet with His people and to ‘connect’ them more closely to one another and to the work of his Spirit.
In some contexts the main theme of a Connect Day, or it could be a Weekend, will be on the inner-life of the group and how the connections between people and churches can move into a closer and relational interdependence.
In other situations the Day may have a more outward focus as churches grapple with what it means to be tasked with a shared responsibility for mission and evangelism in their locality.
Or it may be that local churches, or groups of leaders, will ask us to facilitate a Connect Day which is more exclusively about refreshment and retreat. Or a combination!
The exact content of the Day or Weekend, its theme and even its title, will be worked out in consultation with local leaders, which is why each days generally needs quite a long run-in. And ReSource staff and Ministers can run the Day or Weekend in its entirety or work alongside local facilitators. There are endless possibilities!
In every case, though, we will want to keep an emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the only one who can connect the disparate parts of the church into a deeper relational unity, and as the missioner par excellence who connects the church to God’s outward and life-giving flow of love for the world.
It is the Holy Spirit, the “go-between God”, who connects us inwardly across our churches (to one another), outwardly (to the world) and upwardly (into the triune unity of God himself), and who alone can breathe life into the organisational structure of the church.